Tuesday, July 31, 2007

No New Toilets!

While I certainly agree that flush toilets are a huge waste of water and think we need to rethink the idea, I have some issues with this article on better toilet alternatives.

Regarding composting toilets, which use no water and would require us to cart our own crap out:
The technologies remain relatively unpopular because people in developed countries are programmed—and their houses and cities are built—to flush it all away. "Perhaps sometime in the future," said Quitzau, "people in Western cities could accept the idea of using human urine and feces as resources instead of as wastes."

Until then, the unsanitary stigma will haunt some of the modern replacements for water-flushing toilets. Quitzau says composting toilets are unfavorable because, although much improved technologically, they still remind people of ancient, unappetizing waterless technologies, such as the earth closet or outhouses.

And no, the problem isn't that I'm a toilet water snob (in fact, I happen to find all toilets to be unappetizing). The problem is that I don't like the idea of having to store crap in my house or having to cart it out the door and take it somewhere. This isn't about some imaginary"unsanitary stigma". This is about the very real issue of having crap in my house. And I've got two poopy teens and a little booter living with me and have noticed in them a distinct penchant for avoiding chores. So I've got a pretty good idea of who Mr. Crap Carrier would be. It'd be me. Daddy Crap Carrier. "Sorry kids. I'd like to play, but I've got to take out your crap." Thanks, but no thanks.

The article really makes it seem like this is just some silly superstition that got us to start flushing our crap into sewers. But it isn't. We have plumbing because we needed plumbing. We live in cities and cities have too many people for us all to be storing our crap up. And while I suppose this isn't quite so urgent for country folk, I don't think they like the idea of carting their crap around either. This isn't an issue of snobbery or stigma or anything. This is about convenience and not wanting to deal with stinky crap. I have no problem using a new kind of toilet, just as long as I don't have to do anything with the crap afterwards. (And no, squat toilets are not acceptable either.)

Oh, and what is this about:
While drinking-water shortages plague millions in such places as India and in some African nations, Westerners continue to oppose alternatives to the flushing toilet.

Am I missing something? Do we export drinking water in mass quantities? If not, then how is this relevant? Even if we switch to better toilets, the Indians still can't have our water. We'd just use it for longer showers, greener lawns, and more lavish waterparks. But if they want our precious tap water, they can buy Aquafina like everyone else.

And no, once we switch over to their beloved waterless technologies, the article never mentions where my cats would get their drinking water from. How typical. Everything works perfectly well, until you remember the cats.

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